As I write, the Washington Redskins are battling the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card game to see who will play in the NFC divisional playoffs. All Redskins fans are hoping that the dynamic duo of their rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and rookie running back Alfred Morris will lead their team to this important victory. Tens of thousands of these fans are in Washington D.C. Fedex field, soaking up the action. But according to the New York Times in a recent article found here, one of Morris’ biggest and most important fans is not in the stadium. His mom Yvonne Morris opted to watch the game from home in Florida, because she teaches reading to 9th and 10th graders at Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Fla. and the game’s 4:30 p.m. start would force her to miss classes Monday. She couldn’t be happier for the Redskins and prouder of her son Alfred, but “I have an obligation to those kids,” she explains. “I really love teaching, and it is kind of difficult to part ways.”
As the Times notes, Mrs. Morris clearly has passed her strong work ethic on to her son Alfred, the fourth of the seven sons she has raised with her husband Ronald, a chef. Alfred had a team-record 1,613 rushing yards this year, which represents the third-highest total in league history for a rookie. Morris pushes himself so hard in practice, that the offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan finds it impossible to slow him down, even during practices when players are asked to just go through the motions. “We make fun of him because he won’t ever go walk-through tempo,” Shanahan said. “He’s always full speed.”
His meteoric rise this year is even more remarkable considering that he was not a heavily recruited college or professional athlete. In fact, his alma mater Florida Atlantic was the only N.C.A.A. Division I program to offer him a scholarship. In the professional draft he was passed over by all 32 N.F.L. teams until Washington chose him 173rd over all amid concerns about his size (5 feet 9 inches, 216 pounds) and speed (4.68 in the 40-yard dash). But these hurdles only made Morris more determined. “I’ve been an underdog my whole life,” Morris told the Times. “People underestimate you, but I’ve always believed in myself.”
Gotta love this story, and gotta admire his mom Yvonne for her strong sense of commitment and a passion for work, which has so influenced her son. (How many moms out there would miss being in the stands for this game so they could be at work the next day?) Regardless of what happens in tonight’s game, Morris is a winner.